- Elaine Sison
First-timers guide to Arches National Park
Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Over 2,000 arches are found in Arches National Park. It’s amazing how the earth can naturally create these majestic formations with the right type of rocks, thick layers of salt, and the right amount of rain. Keep reading for a full guide on all the top sights when visiting Arches National Park.
*When planning your trip, please review travel restrictions and adhere to government and state guidelines of COVID-19.
When to visit
Arches National Park is open year-round, but the ideal time to visit is Spring and Fall. The summer gets way too spicy for me to handle, and the winters get too uncomfortably cold. Regardless of when you come, always be sure to check the official park website for park updates and closures.
How to get there
Driving is inevitable, so you’re going to want to add this to your road trip bucket list. The closest airport is Salt Lake City and you’ll still want to factor in a 4-hour drive.
Upon arrival at Arches National Park, a $30 entrance fee for each private vehicle is requested. America the Beautiful passes are accepted here too.
How many days should you visit?
You can see everything in my Arches National Park guide in one day if you start early in the morning. Otherwise, 2 days also works if you want to take your time. We stayed 8 days in Moab, Utah to work remotely while exploring in the evening and on weekends. With additional time to explore, check out the top 10 things to do in Moab, Utah.
Things to do
If you had to take one piece of advice from this blog, my #1 advice is to come to Delicate Arch in the morning near sunrise. Delicate Arch is the number one site that every visitor must-see, so expect it to get overly crowded. I’ve seen other visitors having to wait in long lines to take a picture of the Delicate Arch in the afternoon. Sunset is a nice time to see with the sun setting behind the arch, but expect hundreds of people to be there too. Keep in mind that this is a moderate hike that requires a steep cline to see the arch. Pay very close attention to the arrows on the trial because we ended going off the trail and hiking on a sketchy cliff just before reaching the Delicate Arch. The sketchy cliff was manageable, but there’s a better route so pay attention to the arrows.
Distance: 3.4 miles
Difficulty rating: Moderate
Devil’s Garden Trail
Devil’s Garden Trail leads you to 7 unique arches and can be classified as easy to moderate depending on how far you want to go. To see the whole shebang, expect some minor rock climbing, and overcoming any fair of heights.
Distance: 4.9 miles to Double O Arch or 7.9 miles with Primitive Trail
Difficulty rating: Moderate
Here are some of the popular arches along Devil’s Garden Trail.
Double O Arch
Double Arch Trail
Let’s not confuse Double Arch and Double O Arch as the same because they are actually very different sights. Double Arch is my personal favorite because of the unique rock features and the height and massiveness of the formations. I would consider this more of a stroll, instead of a hike. Before you start, you see a holistic view of the rock formations looking like a parade of elephants! Visitors can climb up the rocks to get closer to the bottom of the arch, but they’ll need to do this with caution.
Distance: 0.6 miles
Windows Loop and Turret Arch Trail
Windows Loop and Turret Arch are next to each other and can be combined in one stop. If you’re tired of arches by now, this is the one to skip if you had to pick.
Distance: 1.2 miles
Balanced Rock is optional to skip because you easily see it along the route. If you decide to make a stop here, it offers a 0.3-mile walking path around Balanced Rock.
Come back at night and bring your high-end cameras (your iPhones won’t be able to capture the night sky). You need pure darkness away from any sign of light pollution to see the starry night. I even saw bats flying around, but they are there for the bugs….not you, so don’t worry.
Where to stay
There’s a ton of construction going on in Moab, Utah when I went in November 2020. I assume they are growing the town to accommodate for the increased tourism. Here are a few spots to consider by accommodation type:
Luxury: Hoodoo Moab, a Hilton property - we didn’t stay here, but we came here for drinks in the evening at their cute bar and drank at their patio. The hotel looks modern and new.
Preferred: Airbnb’s are usually preferred as long as they have good ratings. They usually have a wide range of accommodations from the budget, modern, and unique stays.
Can’t-go-wrong type of hotel: Hyatt Place Moab - your standard type of hotel.
Budget-friendly: La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Moab - we stayed in this one if you are looking for a budget-friendly hotel. The rooms were decent they served daily breakfast.
Drop a comment if you have any questions or simply want to say hi!
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